Christchurch firm Eagle Protect earns triple bottom line rating
Being rated an excellent triple bottom line business is one thing; keeping the status is another.
Eagle Protect is one of four Canterbury firms with accreditation from Benefit Corp (B-Corp). The only other New Zealand company with the rating is in Auckland.
Eagle supplies products like latex gloves for the medical and dental sectors. It also supplies protective gear for heavy industries like meat processing.
Founder and chief executive Steve Ardagh says B-Corp is a voluntary standard, awarded to businesses that meet certain performance, accountability and transparency targets.
The rating was "all encompassing" and harder to meet on each audit, he said.
"It proves that we're actually doing it [right] and that it's not just a greenwash, that sort of thing."
It took Eagle about two years to meet the standard the first time.
The assessors do initial testing and help lagging applicants to meet the grade.
Ardagh said Eagle passed with 80 points the first time, and assumed it would be able to repeat the performance comfortably.
The next result was a sub-standard 64 points. It turned out the bar had been raised, Ardagh said.
Eagle was "guided through it" until it again succeeded. "It's not like 'pass or fail … do another year at school'."
B-Corp started in the United States and has expanded worldwide, tailoring itself to developing economies in Asia in particular.
Ardagh said Eagle used its rating to assure its customers they could trust its products.
As a supplier to food exporters, Eagle was sensitive to a scandalous slip, Ardagh said.
Eagle did its own quality audits alongside the B-Corp grading, auditing its suppliers' factories yearly as part of a code of conduct.
All its suppliers were rated "excellent."
Ardagh has become an active promoter of B-Corp'sapproach, spreading the word at speaking engagements in Australia and the US.
The B-Corp link has put Eagle in touch with others on the triple bottom line star chart, like ice-cream maker Ben and Jerry's of Unilever, outdoor clothing-maker Patagonia,and online crowdfunding platform Kickstarter.
Ardagh estimates B-Corp has helped it to "tap into" a network of 1400 to 1500 business that share Eagle's values.
Eagle has also made B-Corp friends closer to home, in the form of Canterbury inductees Brown Bread, a marketing firm; natural products retailer Ethique; Global Cycling Adventures and NZX-listed Snakk Media, based in Auckland.
Ardagh said a B-Corp rating would be useful as it prepares to set up an office in Oakland, California. He plans to relocate to the new base with his family early in 2016.
He started the company in 2006, aiming to "do a business that was a little bit different". The aim had always prided itself on trading at a fair and sustainable price while treating staff well, he said.